Forms of Love in Plato's Symposium Essay

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Love, in classical Greek literature, is commonly considered as a prominent theme. Love, in present days, always appears in the categories of books, movies or music, etc. Interpreted differently by different people, Love turns into a multi-faceted being.

In Plato’s work Symposium, Phaedrus, Pausania, Eryximachus, Aristophane and Agathon, each of them presents a speech to either praise or definite Love. Phaedrus first points out that Love is the primordial god; Pausanias brings the theme of “virtue” into the discussion and categorizes Love into “good” one or “bad” one; Eryximachus introduces the thought of “moderation’ and thinks that Love governs such fields as medicine and music; Aristophanes draws attention to the origin and purposes
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For instance, “the ability to feel shame at disgraceful behavior and pride in good behavior, because without these qualities no individual or community could achieve anything great or fine.” (11) “Possession by Love would infuse even utter cowards with courage and make them indistinguishable from those to whom bravery comes most easily.” (11) To show how powerful this bravery is, he puts it into a condition of a battalion in which lovers and their boyfriends compete in avoiding any kind of shameful act. This bravery on battlefield is because, compared to the situation that to be seen by one’s beloved committing some disgraceful acts, nothing shames them more.

There is a response to Phaedrus’ this point later in the symposium. By saying Love is “the youngest of the gods and is forever young” (33), Agathon claims that he cannot accept that Love is the most ancient god, though he agrees with a number of deal of what Phaedrus was saying. To prove his idea, Agathon argues that if Love had already been existed between Hesiod and Parmenids, they could have been living happily and in peace with each other. According to Agathon, not only Love is the youngest, but also Love keeps himself away from old age. “He is a constant companion of young men and (given the validity of the old saying that like always clings to like) he is therefore young himself.” (32) From here, readers can tell that these speeches are not independent. To some extent, they are
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